According to researchers in Taiwan, the answer is “Yes.”
The researchers (Ko & Kuo, 2009) administered a 43-item self-report survey to 596 college students who were mostly between ages 16 and 22 and female (71 percent). The college students were young adults who had blogging experience, and specifically with blogging for the purpose of keeping a personal journal.
The researchers found support for deeper self-disclosure from bloggers resulting in a range of better social connections. These included things such as a sense of greater social integration, which is how connected we feel to society and our own community of friends and others; an increase in social bonding (our tightly knit, intimate relationships); and social bridging — increasing our connectedness with people who might be from outside of our typical social network.
They also hypothesized and found support from their data that when these kinds of social connections increase or grow deeper through blogging, a person will also feel a greater subjective sense of well-being or happiness.
This research is consistent with prior research on personal writing (usually more privately, though) that finds that when people share their innermost thoughts of their moods or feelings with others through writing, they may gain greater social support and improve their social relationships and feelings of connectedness. There isn’t a whole lot of research into blogging, so this study is a valuable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of this behavior.
The researchers also reminded us that since most people who read personal blogs are a person’s own friends and family, it’s likely that self-disclosure on those blogs will help them improve these existing relationships. Not only does blogging not diminish or interfere with existing social relationships, the researchers argue, but it enhances them and has the ability to actually improve them.
I’ve seen this time and time again with some of my friends’ blogs — they share feelings and thoughts that I’d have a hard time getting from them in-person. Especially since many times people blog as they’re going through an emotional or difficult situation in their lives. It’s so much easier to blog about it as it’s happening than to try and call and talk to a half dozen close people by phone, repeating the same information and feelings time and time again (which can result in an emotional drain).
I also see similar things happening in our online support groups. Those people who share their feelings and thoughts consistently over time seem to get more from the groups than those who only use them as a social group.
Can blogging help you feel more connected with others and, in turn, increase your own sense of well-being and happiness? Apparently so, at least amongst college students. And even if the results don’t generalize quite so strongly to others, the data indicate a trend that suggests there continues to be benefits of journaling — whether public or private. Public journaling — blogging — however, results in the addition of these improvements in social connectedness, something you just can’t get from a private diary.
Ko, H-C. & Kuo, F-Y. (2009). Can blogging enhance subjective well-being through self-disclosure? CypberPsychology & Behavior, 12(1), 75-79. DOI 10.1089/cpb.2008.0163.